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Whoa, Momma!

Sharon Kennedy Wynne, Tracey Henry and Suzannah DiMarzio

Free and cheap things to do with the kids



guitars.jpgFrom rock artifacts at the Hard Rock to fun back to school parties to Dali kid fun, we have lots of free and cheap ways to fill these last weeks of summer

Ordinarily we wouldn’t encourage you to throw the kids in the car and head to an Ybor nightclub for some good times. But Kiddopalooza sounds like a blast. It’s a dance party for the younger set scheduled Saturday from 1-4 p.m. at one of Tampa’s most rocking nightclubs, the Amphitheatre. Costumes are encouraged, and there’ll be a DJ, dance games, Wii games, face painting, snacks and refreshments. Parents, this is not a “drop-off” event. (No sneaking over to the Green Iguana!) You’re encouraged to RSVP at the website, . The Amphitheatre is at 1609 E Seventh Ave. in Ybor City. $15 age 7 and older, $10 ages 1-6, infants free; (813) 248-4050.

If your kids are rock fans, you might want to take the to the Hard Rock today or tomorrow of the Hard Rock’s 40th Anniversary Memorabilia Tour. You can see priceless artifacts like Freddie Mercury’s Spandex jumper, Peter Frampton’s guitar and Madonna’s Virgin-al wedding dress, left,  at this traveling celebration of the chain’s four decades serving us burgers next to rock star detritus. The bus pulled up to Tampa’s Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino on Wednesday, 5223 N Orient Road, and is staying through Friday. It’s open from 1 to 7 p.m. each day and it’s free. Hard Rock All Access, Hard Rock Pin Collectors Club and AAA members get in an hour before it opens.

You can get into the Glazer Children’s Museum for just $5 on Saturday for the Back to School Fair. The first 150 kids get a free back-to-school goodie bag filled with school supplies. There will be lots of booths set up with tips on health, wellness and safety, along with live entertainment, games, arts and crafts, face painting, balloon artists and karaoke. Then you can enjoy the museum, which normally charges $15 admission, $9.50 for kids. It opens at 9 a.m. in Curtis Hixon Park, 110 W Gasparilla Plaza, Tampa. (813) 949-4400;

Bring lunch boxes, backpacks or notebooks to decorate, or create your own school supplies at the Back to School Party at the Morean Arts Center.  All art supplies provided. 3 to 5 p.m. Tuesday. $5. Morean Arts Center, 719 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. (727) 822-7872.

See the Dalí on Tour poster exhibition on display at Westfield Countryside in Clearwater and let the kids stick around for hands-on “surreal” children’s activities that include the melting clock hat, Dalí mustache and more at 2 p.m. Tuesday, followed by a free showing of the animated Yogi Bear movie. The mall is at 27001 U.S. 19 N.

This sounds like the perfect assignment: sending students out to look at words. But these are no ordinary words. They’re pieces of art that are part of “Syntax: Text and Symbols for a New Generation” at the Tampa Museum of Art. Now students from area colleges can get in free with student ID (saving $5, which can get you a lot of late-night Mexican food, if you catch our drift) through the duration of the exhibit, through Sept. 25. In case you haven’t heard some of the highlights of this exhibit, which is part of the collection of Miami resident Hadley Martin Fisher, here are a few that you can put on your radar:
• Daylight Map (2005), which illuminates the world’s 24 time zones in white neon that is lit only during the zones’ daytime hours.
• The Bastard Punctuation, 12 drawings that use airplane parts to represent punctuation marks: Wings are parentheses, the fuselage is a dash.
• Job Creation in a Bad Economy, a video and sculpture by Antonia Wright and Ruben Millares. In the video, the two hurl themselves at a stack of books; they and the books fall into a pile and then they move on to another stack. Beside the video screen, the artists have constructed a pile of books (800, no doubt) that begs to be toppled. It’s cordoned off, though, so don’t get any ideas.
Tampa Museum of Art is at 120 W Gasparilla Plaza. Regular admission is $10 adults, $7.50 seniors and military (one guest also $7.50).

quidditch.jpgDress like your favorite Harry Potter character, pull on tennis shoes and grab a broomstick for the QuiddiTch Cup Tournament at the Museum of Science and Industry. College-age teams will challenge one another to the sport made popular by the Harry Potter books and movies. $9 per person, $50 team of seven, but free to watch at MOSI, 4801 E Fowler Ave., Tampa. (813) 987-6000. 10 a.m.-noon Saturday.

The 11th annual Gulfport GeckoFest returns Sept. 3, and the organizers are inviting kids of all ages with fun creative ideas to help them build a giant gecko dragon for the parade. They need newspapers, packing peanuts, sparkles, colorful fabrics, ribbons and, of course, ideas. Children under 12 must be accompanied by an adult. This community project is Saturday, and also Aug. 20 and Aug. 27 from 1 to 4 p.m. in the Gulfport Arts Center, 2726 54th St. S in Gulfport. For information contact Elizabeth Neily at (727) 744-7051.

Set the tone for your kids’ excitement about the upcoming school year by taking them to this carnival-themed Back to School Health Fairh with free sports physicals, food, carnival games, relaxation massages, health screenings and consultations, family activities and giveaways. Free. Florida Blue Center, 201 N West Shore Blvd., Tampa. Toll-free 1-877-352-5830. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday. 

The last of the Dive-In Movies for the summer is this week in St. Pete Beach. Bring your noodles, floats and chairs to see Shark Tale. Get there early so you can float and swim awhile before the family-friendly film starts. $3 per person; drinks, snacks and glow jewelry will be sold. St. Pete Beach Aquatic Center, 7701 Boca Ciega Drive, St. Pete Beach. (727) 363-9245. 8 p.m. Friday.

Flicks and Fins at The Aquatic Center in Seminole invites everyone for a fun family night of games, prizes and a screening of the 2010 film Legend of the Guardians. Bring an inflatable to relax in the pool while watching the movie. Food and drink available for purchase. $4, $3 child for nonmembers; $2 adult, $1.50 child for members. Seminole Recreation Center, 9100 113th St. N, Seminole. (727) 397-6085. 7 p.m. Friday.

For Jungle Boogie, children ages 3 to 4 can join in the fun with a nature story, crafts and outdoor exploration. $2.50. Boyd Hill Nature Preserve, 1101 Country Club Way S, St. Petersburg. (727) 893-7326. 11:15 a.m. Wednesday.

Grab one of the available beanbag chairs and get ready for a free “Pop-Up Theatre” movie viewing with family-friendly activities including face painting and balloon artists. Today’s movie is Disney’s PG-rated animated tear-jerking adventure Up. By tying thousands of balloon to his home, 78-year-old Carl Fredricksen sets out to fulfill his lifelong dream to see the wilds of South America. Tuesday’s portion features the PG-rated animated adventure Yogi Bear. In the film, a documentary filmmaker travels to Jellystone Park to shoot a project and soon crosses paths with Yogi Bear, his sidekick Boo-Boo and Ranger Smith. Viewings will be held each Tuesday and Thursday through Oct. 27. Free. Westfield Countryside Mall, 27001 U.S. 19 N, Suite 2096, Clearwater. (727) 796-1070. 2 p.m. today and Tuesday.

Train lovers of all sizes can Ride the Central Pasco and Gulf Railroad, a 20-25 minute round-trip ride on this large-scale 7.5-inch-gauge train similar in size to the one Walt Disney is famous for running in his back yard. $1 donation appreciated. Crews Lake Wilderness Park, 16739 Crews Lake Drive, Shady Hills. (727) 569-2289. 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday.

The Teen Tidalwave Finale on Tuesday is a supervised end-of-the-summer teen pool party with water balloon fights, Super Slip-N-Slide races, lifeguard dances, an extra long swim session, food and door prizes. $5. Highland Recreation Complex and Family Aquatic Center, 400 Highland Ave. NE, Largo. (727) 518-3018. 7-10 p.m. Tuesday.

Wee-time at Weedon features Mister Seahorse, by Eric Carle. This is the humorous and informative story about sea life and its good fathers. Includes story-related crafts, games and other hands-on activities. Best for ages 3-5. Free (registration required). Weedon Island Preserve, 1800 Weedon Drive NE, St. Petersburg. (727) 453-6500. 10:30-11:15 a.m. today.

Some days it’s just too hot to safely let your children play outside. Take them to the library for an air-conditioned viewing of a series of summer flicks called Family Flix @ Your Library. This portion features the 75-minute PG-rated animated adventure Open Season 3. In the film, Boog’s friends rally to bring him home from a Russian traveling circus. Free. St. Petersburg Main Public Library, 3745 Ninth Ave. N, St. Petersburg. (727) 893-7724. 2 p.m. Tuesday.

Bring blankets, low lawn chairs or towels to plop on Clearwater Beach and watch free movies for Sunset Cinema at Pier 60. Friday features the PG-rated animated Disney film Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Saturday features the PG-rated film The Perfect Game. Concessions for sale. No alcohol. Shows start around dusk, which is around 8-8:30 p.m. Check sunset times just to be sure. Free. Pier 60, 10 Pier 60 Drive, Clearwater Beach. (727) 434-6060. Approximately 8-8:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday.

--Sharon Kennedy Wynne

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[Last modified: Thursday, August 11, 2011 12:00pm]


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